COVID-19 has sparked a number of debates surrounding the use of intelligent software to help with diagnosis, facilitate contract tracing in real-time, develop prediction models to inform hospital demand, and assist with patient prioritization. Is there a way we can harness advances in technology to more efficiently monitor public health, develop treatment plans, and identify vulnerable patients, without compromising privacy and public trust?
On February 26, 2020, CIFAR and the British Columbia Ministry of Health, with expertise from the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship, brought together policymakers, academics, health practitioners, and patient advocates in Victoria, British Columbia to discuss the application of AI to the provincial healthcare system. While our discussions did not focus on COVID-19, the insights generated provide a starting point from which to assess the use of any AI-driven health application.
Inspired by the AI Futures Policy Lab series developed by CIFAR and BII+E, this lab incorporated a mixture of case-study based facilitated discussions, group activities, and invited talks. Five case studies, based on real-life AI applications, were developed to help ground participant discussions and activities throughout the day.
The lab was designed with the aim to:
- Develop a clearer understanding of current capabilities of AI;
- Raise awareness of how AI is being used in the health sector, based on real-world applications;
- Discuss benefits as well as social, ethical, economic, and political challenges associated with AI-driven health applications; and
- Identify immediate next steps for policymakers to support effective deployment and adoption of AI in the health sector within the next 5 years.